188.8.131.52 The Tropopause
The tropopause marks the division between the troposphere and stratosphere and generally a minimum in the vertical profile of temperature. The height of the tropopause is affected by the heat balance of both the troposphere and the stratosphere. For example, when the stratosphere warms owing to absorption of radiation by volcanic aerosol, the tropopause is lowered. Conversely, a warming of the troposphere raises the tropopause, as does a cooling of the stratosphere. The latter is expected as a result of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations and stratospheric ozone depletion. Accordingly, changes in the height of the tropopause provide a sensitive indicator of human effects on climate. Inaccuracies and spurious trends in NRA preclude their use in determining tropopause trends (Randel et al., 2000) although they were found useful for interannual variability. Over 1979 to 2001, tropopause height increased by nearly 200 m (as a global average) in ERA-40, partly due to tropospheric warming plus stratospheric cooling (Santer et al., 2004). Atmospheric temperature changes in the UAH and RSS satellite MSU data sets (see Section 184.108.40.206) were found to be more highly correlated with changes in ERA-40 than with those in NRA, illustrating the improved quality of ERA-40 and satellite data. The Santer et al. (2004) results provide support for warming of the troposphere and cooling of the lower stratosphere over the last four decades of the 20th century, and indicate that both of these changes in atmospheric temperature have contributed to an overall increase in tropopause height. The radiosonde-based analyses of Randel et al. (2000), Seidel et al. (2001) and Highwood et al. (2000) also show increases in tropical tropopause height.